To Gift or Not to Gift? A Guide to When Gifts Are (and Aren't) Required

Favors & Gifts

Whether it's your first time attending a wedding or if you're a seasoned guest, it can be confusing to figure out when you're "supposed to" bring a gift, especially if there are multiple celebratory events for the couple. To help guests navigate the ins-and-outs of gift-gifting etiquette, we prepared this handy guide so you'll never accidentally show up unprepared.

Bridal Shower: Bring a gift
"The main intent of the shower is to 'shower' the bride or the couple with things they need either for their future home or the bride herself (think lingerie!)," explains wedding planner Cathy O'Connell of Celebrations of Joy Events. "If you are not able to attend it's fine to mail a gift or send it with someone who is attending."

"Do keep in mind that if you are attending the shower, to bring your gift to the event itself," adds Tzo Ai Ang, founder of Ang Weddings and Events. "The bride opening and enjoying the gifts is often an important part of the party."

Tip: You can always give a gift from the registry, which makes it easier for both the guest and the bride, says O'Connell. "However, if you have personal knowledge of something amazing the couple would love, by all means go for it. Just don't deviate from registry solely because you don't like their taste or have different personal style preferences!"

See More: Is It Ever Okay to Ask for Money Instead of Wedding Gifts?

Engagement Party: Nice, but not required
"While, not required, it's a sweet gesture to get a couple an engagement gift whether they have a formal party or not," says Annie Lee, founder of Daughter of Design.

Tip: "A small gift or bottle of wine is an appropriate way to honor the occasion," suggests O'Connell. "Save the large gifting for later." Another great idea? Try a book or something that will help the couple plan their wedding, advises Lee.

Bachelorette/Bachelor Party: Not required
"For both of these parties, there's no need to bring a gift. Guests are usually responsible for their own tab and their share of splitting the bride's or groom's for the evening's activities, so additional gifts are not necessary," says Ang.

Rehearsal Dinner: Not required
"This is the night the couple typically gives gifts to the wedding party and family so there's no need to bring anything there," explains Lee.

Wedding: Send a gift
Despite what couples will say about your presence being gift enough, guests should always gift within their means.

Tip: Always send the gift to the couple's home instead of bringing it to the wedding, advises Lee. No one wants to deal with carrying or shipping more boxes home at the end of the night.

Other Occasions
Any other special occasion, such as a farewell brunch or a special luncheon to honor the bride, does not require the attendee to bring a gift, says Lee. "However, in these cases, it's nice to bring a little something for the hostess if the event is in her home and not in a restaurant."

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